Paul’s Manner of Serving The Lord


Did you know or realize, the apostle Paul, the Apostle “appointed out of due season” wrote 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament? As well, there are some who attribute the book of Hebrews to him as well, but we don’t know that for certain. Just think, 13 of the books, which are actually letters, the apostle Paul was inspired to write so “Christians” would know how to live as Christians. Obviously with each letter or epistle, the apostle Paul covers a great many things his audience of the time needed to better understand so they could deal with certain issues as well as false teachers. His letters were also written for us today as well as for those in time past and for those in the future. As the Holy Spirit inspired men to write, they were not to write of their own opinion but as the Holy Spirit moved them to write. The apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” One of the great things about the letters written by Paul is in the fact, because we have so much written by him; we can get to know him very well. We know from Paul’s letters, as well as Luke’s testimony of Paul, when he was Saul in the book of Acts, that Paul made a tremendous transformation from one who persecuted the Lord’s church to becoming one of its greatest champions. We see Saul going from one who would drag men and women out of their homes and put them in prison to the consenting of their deaths as we read concerning the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:58, “and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” It was the apostle Paul, Saul at that time, who held the coats of those who did the stoning of Stephen. In Acts 8:1 we learn, “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem…” When Jesus confronted Saul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:4 He said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" Jesus ultimately sent him into the city where Ananias would baptize him in Acts 22:16 “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'” After Paul’s baptism with Ananias, if you recall, it was Barnabas who testified of the faithfulness of Paul when it came to being with other Christians who feared Paul because of what he had done. Listen to what is stated in Acts 9:27, “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” There is so much to write concerning the apostle Paul we need much more time than this 30 minute program allows for. However, we do have a section of Scripture that we can utilize that will aid us in identifying nine things that you and I can grasp concerning Paul’s manner of Serving the Lord. It is in our best interest that we strive to apply these mannerisms to our own lives. In fact, we are exhorted to be imitators of the apostle Paul on two occasions. In 1 Corinthians 4:16 where Paul says, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” As well in 1 Corinthians 11:1 he says, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” The section of Scripture we want to examine is found in Acts 20:17-27. From the context of this section of Scripture we find the apostle Paul in Miletus where he has called the Ephesian elders to meet with him, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

As the apostle Paul begins his discourse with the Ephesians elders, he reminds them in Acts 20:18, “…You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, …” It is here he strives to bring to their remembrance what his manner was in his service to the Lord. From this point we see him express his manner of humility in his service when he says in Acts 20:19, “…serving the Lord with all humility…” The apostle Paul gives us a great “living” definition of humility in his service to Christ. For Paul did nothing of his own accord but always at the direction of the Lord. Paul had taken on the Will of Christ and completely forfeited his own. Just as he says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” This humble disposition is clearly seen in Paul’s next description of his manner of service to the Lord when we read the second part of Acts 20:19, “…with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews…” It was devastating to the apostle Paul that his Jewish brethren would not believe what he was preaching to them concerning the Christ in which they had crucified. His tears were tears of sorrow for their lost condition as well as the suffering he himself endured because of their rebellious spirit concerning what he was preaching to them. His heart was broken just as Christ’s was in that they were rejecting the hope of salvation they had all been looking for. When the opportunity had manifested itself to them, they turned. But they didn’t just turn, they became violent in their rejection both killing Jesus, stoning Stephen, persecuting Christians and even doing numerous cruel things to the apostle Paul. But let’s note this concerning Paul’s disposition and manner of serving the Lord as we read on in Acts 20:20, “how I kept back nothing that was helpful…” It is in this verse that he explains to the Ephesian elders that even with all this persecution and suffering in which he suffered it did not deter him from preaching everything that would aid Christians in their service to Christ. He did not let the rejection and cruelty from doing those things which would profit others who sought to serve the Lord. As he continues with this thought of keeping nothing back, he reminds them that he did not preach to them concerning these profitable things in secret. Paul tells them in the second part of Acts 20:20, “…but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house.” Everywhere the apostle Paul went he both taught in public as well as in homes. Every opportunity that was afforded him to spread the gospel and help Christians in their walk he did. But let’s not forget, that it wasn’t just in his teaching, but in his manner of life that he accomplished these things.

As the apostle Paul continues his discussion, he also shows that he was not prejudice in whom he taught for as Acts 20:21 says, “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul’s only concern was that he was desperate to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all of mankind. He felt himself a debtor to them. This is just as we should be. We should take on this attitude, that we must do all we can to help bring lost souls to Christ, whether it be through teaching directly or simply in our manner of living as Paul did. We know from the apostle Paul; he was determined that bonds and afflictions would not deter or move him from his task. Listen closely to what he says in Acts 20:22-24, “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Did you hear what the apostle Paul said about his own life in Acts 20:24, the second part, “nor do I count my life dear to myself…” he was more concerned about the cause of Christ then his own wants or wishes. He didn’t count his life dear to himself, but his life was to be for Jesus Christ.

From Acts 20:26 we find Paul concluding his discussion with the Ephesian elders. He spoke concerning himself and his manner of serving the Lord in which they were aware. Paul emphasizes to them that his manner of living was such that he could say he was pure from the blood of all men. Listen to how he says it in Acts 20:26, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.” He goes on to explain why he is innocent in Acts 20:27, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” The apostle Paul took advantage of every opportunity to preach the whole counsel of God to everyone he met. He did not hide in his efforts but went boldly and taught without fear of harm. For he truly believed in Jesus, and obeyed with all his heart, mind, and soul. Turning over to the apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy we can see his disposition when he knows he is nearing the end of his life in service to Christ. Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” When the apostle Paul says, a crown of righteousness is laid up not just for him but for all who have loved his appearing, he is helping us all to see that if we will follow his example, we too can have that hope of eternal life in heaven.

Let’s listen again to our text. This time with our discussion in mind, pay close attention to Paul’s wording, and see if you can pick up the “tone” of his voice. He is indeed trying to build his brethren up in the most Holy Faith. Acts 20:17-27, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

When Paul nears the end of his discussion with the Ephesian elders, he admonishes them, or warns them. As we will see from the conclusion of his time with them, they received his counsel with open hearts and minds. Just listen to how they respond at the end. Let’s read Acts 20:28-38, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 "Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" 36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.”

Paul’s manner of life for the Lord was just as he said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Can we say the same about our own?

Let each one of us make the choice to obey Christ as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”